From the Identity Project mailbag:
My life has been basically destroyed because I don’t have a valid state-issued photo ID.
Thanks to terrorists, it is illegal for any employer in my state to hire me.
I am a natural-born citizen of the United States, born and raised in the State of New Jersey. I have lived here most of my life. I have never been convicted of a felony nor even a misdemeanor. I have never been arrested, nor even ever received so much as a parking ticket. I do not receive any funds from Welfare, Social Security, or any other government program. I am not a terrorist.
Yet, in the State of New Jersey, it is illegal for any employer to hire me, and has been for about the last 6 years.
In order for an employer in NJ to legally hire someone, the employee must have a valid state-issued photo ID, along with an official copy of their birth certificate, and Social Security card. The employer must make copies of these documents and keep them in the employee’s file. If a state official ever shows up demanding to see this documentation, the employer must produce it for each employee or face heavy fines. This is to prevent employers from hiring illegal aliens.
To acquire a valid state-issued photo ID, one must produce “6 points of identification”. Failure to do so will result in a rejection of the application. There is a list of what documents they will accept, and one needs points in multiple categories, plus an approved document to prove residency and mailing address. If you use a document as one of your point documents, you can not use it for proof of address.
Some of these documents will only be accepted for certain cases. For example, a copy of your civil marriage certificate can only be used if you are a female trying to establish the cause of the name on your birth certificate differing from your currently used name. I never changed my name when I got married, therefore I can not use my marriage certificate.
They will only accept a school-issued photo ID if you are a current student or former student that has been out of school less than 2 years. Additionally, the school ID must be accompanied by an official copy of your school transcripts.
The problem with their document list is that it discriminates against young people, the poor, high school dropouts, and some women by making it impossible to obtain an ID if you have been out of school longer than 2 years, do not have a high school diploma, GED, or college degree, do not have any credit cards or ATM card, do not have a bank account, do not have utility bills in your name, or chose not to change your name when you got married.
I fall into most of the above categories. Therefore, I do not have enough points of ID to obtain this very necessary card. Without this card, I can not legally work for any employer in my state.
Additionally, I can not purchase any over the counter decongestant that actually works. This same ID card that I can not obtain is also required to buy decongestants containing pseudoephedrine. Without the ID card, I am limited to the unrestricted pseudoephedrine-free versions (containing “PE”, phenylephrine, instead), which are about as effective for my illness as m&m’s.
Without that ID card, I also can not take the GED test at my county’s community college. If I were able to take this test, I would be able to acquire the one point I need to get the ID card. It is yet another catch-22 situation.
How has all of this really affected me? I have been forced to do private contractor freelance work over the Internet as my only means of acquiring an income to support myself. Many of those jobs are well below the legal minimum wage in my state, on par with wages paid to sweatshop workers in 3rd-world countries. I live well below the poverty line. I have no medical insurance and I can not register for charity care at the university hospital clinic, to obtain free medical care. They want to see this ID too.
When I get sick I am on my own, and I can’t even take a decent over-the-counter decongestant if I need one. My health has suffered enough that I am not even sure I can hold a job any more, even if I was issued this ID card today.
A few days ago my daughter came home sick and I walked 2 miles to try to buy some decongestants for her. I tried to use my photo ID card that expired years ago, but the clerk in the store said it wouldn’t work because it isn’t scanable. She then figured out how to enter in the information on the card manually, but it immediately rejected it when she entered in the expiration date. I had to return home empty handed. My feet still hurt from the walk.
I think I have degenerative chronic plantar fasciitis, a disabling condition that would qualify me to collect SSI. But I can’t see a doctor at the university medical clinic to get a diagnosis and if it is true, document it so I can apply for SSI. I think the Social Security office also requires a photo ID to walk through their doors.
I am still me, I still look like my picture, and I still live at the same address I had when the card was still valid 6 years ago. No information contained on the card has changed.
Why is it now so difficult to get a state-issued photo ID in NJ, when all it used to take was a birth certificate? Well, they changed the rules very shortly after the 9/11 incident because it was determined that a number of the terrorists involved had managed to obtain New Jersey drivers’ licenses.
New Jersey decided to become the toughest state in the country to obtain a state-issued photo ID. They made it so tough that even citizens like me can not get one or renew their old one.